Friday, 21 June 2013

Jacking the boat

On Wednesday the jacking crew arrived from England. The boat was slowly and carefully raised 4 cm. It all went very well indeed and Peggy made absolutely no sound as she was lifted. After we had chopped out the timber supports she was to be seen, for a very brief time, floating in mid-air, held only by the six jacks. Now we know the mass of the boat: only 1.5 tonnes!

Here, I am fixing timber braces to prevent to boat from toppling

Dale from Hydra Capsule adjusts one of the jacks

Shane from Hydra Capsule operating the jacking pumps

Geoff and Kev, MNH Technicians, sawing away the old timber supports

Peggy, supported only on her jacks

Manhandling 400 kg of steel....

.... James Rowbottom from the Nautical Museum helping it into position under the keel

The skelton of our new cradle in place

Monday, 17 June 2013

A Ballad of John Silver by John Masefield

One of the early articles on Peggy is entitled "Schooner-rigged and rakish" which is a quotation from A Ballad of John Silver by John Masefield. The sentiment of the poem sets a stamp upon future articles and commentary on Peggy...

We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the cross-bones and the skull;
We'd a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.

We'd a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It's a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter-dashed with other people's brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank,
And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.

O! then it was (while standing by the taffrail on the poop)
We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken-coop;
Then, having washed the blood away, we'd little else to do
Than to dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.

O! the fiddle on the fo'c's'le, and the slapping naked soles,
And the genial "Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!"
With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead,
And the look-out not a-looking and his pipe-bowl glowing red.

Ah! the pig-tailed, quidding pirates and the pretty pranks we played,
All have since been put a stop-to by the naughty Board of Trade;
The schooners and the merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset in the Islands of the Blest.

First published in 1902. John Masefield, Salt-Water Poems and BalladsHardpress Publishing (2013); ISBN-10: 1290965889; ISBN-13: 978-1290965880.

This is it

Yes, this is it. On Wednesday we will lift the Peggy off her timber supports and install the new cradle. Last week we tried the foam cushions against the boat and they are a perfect fit, so everything is now ready. Obviously there's still a risk when we lift her that she'll creak and groan a bit, but I'm confident that, with the lifting gear we'll be using, it'll be OK.

This weekend I was to be heard on Manx Radio discussing the project on Sunday Opinion with Roger Watterson. For a short time you can hear the show by following this link. I was delighted that Roger had lined up my colleague Matthew Richardson, Curator of Social History and of the Nautical Museum, who gave a very fluent account of George Quayle, his life and times which is well worth a listen. Down the line too was John Kearon, Master Shipwright, who knows Peggy well and serves on the Committee of National Historic Ships UK. John has a broader first-hand knowledge of historic ships than anyone else I've ever met.

While I was chatting it occured to me it might be helpful to list some of the articles and books that make reference to Peggy and related matters. So here goes:

Anon., ‘Captain Quayle’s Schooner ‘Peggy’ of Castletown’ in Journal of the Manx Museum, 1937, volume 3, pp. 211-214.
Anon., ‘Peggy – Schooner-Rigged and Rakish’ in The Yachting World and Motor Boating Journal 218, vol. 84 (1936). 
Clucas, W. R., ‘The Saga of the "Peggy”’ Sea Breezes (July 1982) pp. 461-463.
DK Jones, Plans of Peggy, 1969, originals held at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich
Greenhill, B., ‘The Schooner Peggy: An Eighteenth-Century Survival’ in The American Neptune, January 1969, pp. 54-61.
Greenhill, B., ‘The Schooner Peggy: Eighteenth-century Survival at the Nautical Museum, Castletown’ in Journal of the Manx Museum, 1967, volume 3, pp. 68-76.
Greenhill, B., The Merchant Schooners: Volume One pp. 26, 28;
Kemp, P., The History of Ships, Greenwich Editions (2000)
Lavery, B. (Ed.), Conway’s History of The Ship Vol 4, Conway Maritime Press (1992)
New York Times 21st October 2004.
Nixon, W.M., ‘Les Fantômes de la mer d’Irlande: Histoires et redécouverte des deux plus vieux yachts du monde’, Chasse Marée 27 (1987) pp. 10-25.
Paine, Lincoln P., Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 389-90.
Parkin, R., HM Bark Endeavour, Melbourne University Press (1997)
Swaine, G., ’George Quayle and the Peggy’, in World Ship Review, No. 41, 2005, pp. 1-12.
Watkinson, D., Analytical report on corroded nails from Peggy, Cardiff University, (2010).
May, W.E., The Boats of Men of War, Chatham, ISBN 1-86176-114-7
Marquardt, Karl Heinz, Eighteenth Century Rigs and Rigging, ISBN 0-85177-586-1
Lees, James, The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War, 1625-1860, ISBN 0-85177-290-0

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Final preparations

In the next few days Geoff and I are considring the method we'll use to prevent the boat from toppling when we lift her. If you've read previous posts you might see our problem. Because we are lifting Peggy from the keel alone there'll be nothing to stop her falling over once we remove the props currently hold her up!
So, next week we'll visit the cellar once again to plan exactly how we are going to achieve this. As usual we are limited in what we can do because of the size of the room and the archaeological sensitivity of the walls, floor and ceiling. At the moment we are thinking along the lines of restraining the boat with props to the top corners of the room. It's hard to explain and will be easier to understand once I can show a picture of the device in action.
We are also going to set up the new boat cradle in the yard outside. This is to make sure we know which bit is which before we have to assemble it in situ. It'll be important to sort out where the foam cushions go, too - they are bespoke and each of the six is designed for a specific location on the boat. Unfortunately they arrived unmarked, so it'll be a question of putting them against the boat to find out which is which!
Right now we're in Douglas. There's little point trying to work on site because at this time of year the population of the Isle of Man doubles and everyone's on a motorbike enjoying the TT festival. It's the only time of year when the island experiences real traffic congestion.